Editor’s note: Startland News is showcasing five Kansas City changemakers from five local organizations through its second annual Community Builders to Watch series. The following highlights one of the 2022 honorees, selected from more than 100 initial nominees. Click here to view the full list of Community Builders to Watch — presented by Engenious Design.
Technology doesn’t only define Tammy Buckner’s hobbies and career choice — it could very well be the word used to classify her life’s purpose, she said, reflecting on her career in tech and unwavering advocacy for Kansas City’s tech and entrepreneurship communities.
Such a calling is why she founded WeCode KC — an effort that gives youth the opportunity to learn technology concepts and leadership skills and creates a pipeline of future-ready professionals through project-based learning and innovative programs.
A networker by nature, Buckner thrives in environments where she can create connections for others in her space — and to those she meets outside of it.
Click here to learn more about WeCode KC.
Watch the video below, then keep reading to learn more about Bucker and her vision for coding change in Kansas City.
QUESTION: Tell us about yourself!
ANSWER: I was a software developer, I was a project manager, I was a business systems analyst — and I love everything technology. I love trying to insert tech into everything I do and everything other people do. … A lot of times I do put myself last, but I enjoy being a connector and being that resourceful person when people ask questions [and someone who] can always connect them with someone else that I’ve met. I love to network because it’s normally not something that I need, but it’s something that I can connect someone else with so that I, I love doing that.
Community Builders to Watch honorees will be celebrated June 15 at a Startland News reception and networking event, presented in partnership with Cyderes, C2FO, KC BizCare, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Profile videos from the Community Builders to Watch will be shown on screen at the KC Live! stage at Power & Light’s Live Block, along with a special concert featuring the Black Creatures.
Click here for event details.
Q: When did you first realize your work was building community in Kansas City?
A: I talked to someone and they said, “You realize the work that you’re doing with these teenagers … a lot of people go overseas [for it] and use those developers. You’re basically building an urban shore.” And that hit me. I was like, “Wow. We’re really onto something.” It made me realize the community needs a program such as this.
Q: What is your hope for Kansas City’s tomorrow?
A: [My] ultimate goal is that Kansas City takes a hold of programs that are building a workforce that’s not traditional — and that they look at alternative ways of hiring people, that aren’t built so much on having a four-year degree or 10 to 20 years of experience. That they start looking at people that are maybe getting their feet wet or just want to be a part of an organization [in some way.] We have to figure out a way [to] make our workforce look a little different. It has to be diverse — and that’s not just looking at race. But looking at value, equity, belonging, and [our] changing cultures. That’s my hope and that’s my desire.
Q: How can the community get involved with and support your work?
A: You can go to our website and donate — but most importantly, volunteer. Volunteerism is so important. I get a lot of people that say, “I’m not a techie” or “I don’t know how to teach people. I’m not an expert.” The more you teach, the more you learn. It’s a proven fact that being a volunteer actually boosts your morale — your super brain.
Volunteer. Be a mentor. Help and be a part of organizations such as WeCode — it doesn’t just have to be WeCode. There are other programs you can be a part of and make a difference in Kansas City. In Kansas City there are a lot of people that just love to be a part of organizations. So step up. Be a volunteer. If you would like to donate, we would love that. But come out and show these kids and young adults what Kansas City is truly made of.
Q: What do you want your legacy to be?
A: I would like WeCode to be the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of technology. I want to have as many of these clubs in different schools and communities [as possible,] so kids can get exposed to things they’re not normally exposed to. … They’re around coaches, they start with [our] pair programming and learn how to work with other people and be involved with teams, [and develop] critical thinking skills. I want them to be able to grasp different cultures.
WHAT WE DO
Engenious Design is a creative engineering firm that creates medical devices and high technology systems for our clients.
WHO WE ARE
We are designers, makers, engineers who create new things that make the world a better place. Our team includes Electrical, Embedded Software, Mechanical and Test Engineers, Industrial Designers, Project Managers, Product Managers and others.
WHAT WE BELIEVE
Our team is guided by these four cultural aspirations:
Relate: We invest in healthy relationships with our team, clients, suppliers, partners, and our community
Create: We create new products that improve lives
Produce: We work quickly to get what’s important done
Improve: We have healthy unrest with the status quo, and we take responsibility to make things better